Penn­syl­va­nia sees an­other big monthly drop in job­less rate

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Business -

HARRISBURG — Penn­syl­va­nia’s un­em­ploy­ment rate be­gan to look like the rest of the na­tion’s in Septem­ber, tak­ing an­other steep drop from its post- pan­demic high as the la­bor force and pay­rolls grew, ac­cord­ing to state fig­ures re­leased Fri­day.

How­ever, the state still has yet to re­cover many of the jobs lost to the eco­nomic im­pact of the coron­avirus.

Penn­syl­va­nia’s un­em­ploy­ment rate was 8.1% in Septem­ber, down 2.3 per­cent­age points from Au­gust’s ad­justed rate of 10.4%, the state Depart­ment of La­bor and In­dus­try said.

That is be­low the state’s pan­demic­driven un­em­ploy­ment high of 16.1% in April, the high­est rate in more than four decades of record- keep­ing.

The na­tional rate was 7.9% in Septem­ber. Penn­syl­va­nia was hit harder by the pan­demic than most states in the spring, and its un­em­ploy­ment rate had been one of the high­est in the na­tion since.

Pay­rolls grew more slowly in Septem­ber than in re­cent months but gained back 19,400 of the more

than 1.1 mil­lion jobs lost since mid- March.

With pay­rolls at nearly 5.6 mil­lion, Penn­syl­va­nia has re­gained slightly more than half the jobs lost in the past seven months, ac­cord­ing to state fig­ures.

In a sur­vey of house­holds, the la­bor force grew by an es­ti­mated 52,000 in Septem­ber, closer to 6.4 mil­lion — still be­low the record high at close to 6.6 mil­lion in Fe­bru­ary. Un­em­ploy­ment fell by 141,000 while em­ploy­ment grew by 194,000.

At the height of coro­n­avirusshut­down job losses, sea­son­ally ad­justed non­farm pay­rolls fell to the low­est level in at least three decades of fed­eral data that goes back to the start of 1990 un­der the same method­ol­ogy.

It is still down more than 500,000 from where it was, or about 1 in 12 jobs to­tal, and still be­hind where pay­rolls were in 2010, a dra­matic drop- off af­ter the state hit a record of more than 6.1 mil­lion in Fe­bru­ary.

Hard­est hit has been the leisure and hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor, which shed about 60% of its pay­roll as restau­rants and bars were forced to shut down in- house ser­vice and shift food ser­vice to takeout or de­liv­ery.

Most sec­tors grew in Septem­ber.

Leisure and hos­pi­tal­ity, which in­cludes restau­rants, grew the most — by 16,000 jobs in Septem­ber — and re­mains 150,000 jobs, or about 25%, be­hind where pay­rolls were in Fe­bru­ary.

The ed­u­ca­tion and health ser­vices sec­tor fell by 9,000, to re­main above 1.2 mil­lion, and gov­ern­ment fell by al­most 17,000 jobs to 683,000.

El­iz­a­beth Robert­son/ The Philadel­phia Inquirer

In March, the 300 block of Mar­ket Street in Philadel­phia is de­serted and a sign in the win­dow of the Artist and Crafts­man Sup­ply alerts cus­tomers it is closed.

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